McKinney Boyd rebounded with a much-needed win Friday, as McKinney and McKinney North fell in district-openers. We visit this week with quarterbacks Grant Restmeyer of Boyd, Christian Files of North and Damon Witmer of McKinney.
Ready? Let’s move ‘em out.
McKINNEY BOYD BRONCOS
Boyd got it done Friday: winning a game it had to have, 41-31, over Plano West – and doing it on the road. The Broncos (2-3, 1-2) won with a stellar second half, including touchdowns on their first three possessions and holding the Wolves (1-3, 0-2) to 7 points.
Cameron Powell (left) knocks in field goals Monday out of Ryan Dempsey's hold.
It all came down to momentum and confidence, Boyd coach Don Drake says. “And a lot of that’s due to your effort, your mindset and creating plays. I thought our kids did that in the second half, played really well.” That’s not to say Boyd played poorly in the first half, trailing 24-20 at the break, Drake adds. “I think we did some good things. It was just competitive teams going at each other.”
Quarterback Grant Restmeyer came up big again for the Broncos, posting 269 yards passing with three touchdowns and a rushing TD. “There’s no doubt that he’s critical to our success,” Drake says. “He played outstanding the other night, made some great decisions in the passing game and in the run-pass game. … And he’s a tough quarterback.”
Restmeyer has indeed taken some big hits lately, at Allen and at Plano West, leaving the game for one play each time. “It hurts,” he says, “and then, I don’t like being on the sidelines and just watching. So playing through pain is alright with me.”
“I think it was good to get back on track, after losing the first two in district,” Restmeyer says of the win. “You don’t want to do that. It was good to start to get on a roll again and hopefully carry that into this week.”
As for trailing at halftime, Restmeyer says Boyd didn’t panic. “We were confident with our game plan. We just needed to go out and execute in the second half, which we did on both sides of the ball.”
Boyd quarterback Grant Restmeyer threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns in Friday's win.
Two of the Broncos’ three third-quarter touchdown drives were set up by back-to-back fumble recoveries by Brent Matiscik and Bradley Hume. Running back Kaeden Markham capped both with touchdown runs of 57 and 15 yards, finishing with 135 yards rushing.
Receiver Stephen Driskell impressed again, hauling in seven catches for 97 yards, with a 32-yard touchdown grab. Last week, Driskell caught 10 balls for 153 yards and two TDs. Reasons for the Restmeyer-to-Driskell link of late? “Just being on the same page, practicing well,” Restmeyer says. “[And] we have a pretty good game plan going in.” Plus, he says, the two have worked together for several years.
Says Drake, “Stephen’s been a player for us since his sophomore year. It’s about making the most of your opportunities. He’s created some big plays and made some tough catches in traffic.”
Safety Parker Noren again led the Broncos in tackles Friday with 12 and cornerback Armani Jenkins ended one Wolves drive with a pick.
Next up, Boyd hosts undefeated Plano East, a team that looks to be rolling toward post-season play. In their last outing, the Panthers ended a five-year losing streak to cross-town nemesis Plano West, 36-6, and now come off a bye.
Junior quarterback Miklo Smalls has thrown for 875 yards and 11 TDs, and his 300 yards rushing also lead the team. Smalls’ favorite receiving targets, Tim Wilson and Audie Omotosho, average 20 yards per catch each. Defensively, junior linebacker Anthony Hines III has scores of FBS-college offers already.
“They typically have quite a few talented kids on that football team,” Drake says. “I think the biggest thing [this year] is they’ve gained some momentum and they’re playing with a lot of confidence – whereas, last year they were trying to learn how to win, this year they are winning. … They’re a scary football team right now, to be honest with you.”
Boyd has won the last two meetings with Plano East, including a 29-3 victory last year. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 3-2.
McKINNEY NORTH BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs (3-1, 0-1) knew Wylie East’s offense was top-notch – but this night, the Raiders went off en route to a 72-43 win. North fell behind 22-3 in the first quarter, rallied for 24 second-quarter points, but by halftime, Wylie East’s lead stood at 51-27.
North quarterback Christian Files recently set a school record for passing yards in a single game (436).
“They played really well,” Fecci says of the Raiders (3-1, 1-0), adding that North didn’t help things by coughing up the ball on its first possession. “That kind of set the tone for us. They jumped out on us pretty good in the first quarter, then we were playing catch-up the whole night. … It was just one of those off nights. Call it what it is. It sometimes happens. They’re a good football team. I’d like to play them again but we don’t get that opportunity.”
Fecci says his team will now re-focus. “Negative things can be positive things if you look at it through the right mind-set. Maybe we needed a little bit of a wake-up call, maybe we needed a little bit of a shake-up to get back to what got us to where we were. We definitely have no reason to be overly confident in any area right now.”
“It’s been a learning experience,” quarterback Christian Files says of the loss. “We’ve had to overcome it and … go back to work and do what we do.”
On Friday, Files threw for 215 yards and a touchdown, and running back Micah Bualicex, in his first action this year, rambled for 165 yards and a TD. Bualicex also caught the 25-yard screen-pass touchdown. Files rushed for three touchdowns as well and Brennan Harris led North receivers with nine catches for 107 yards. Chase Carreher booted field goals of 31 and 22 yards.
Defensive coordinator Joe Welock (right) drills the Bulldogs' defense on Monday.
“There were some [good] things,” Files says, “but I know, overall, we felt disappointed because we weren’t out there being consistent every drive. We focused mainly on that. … We’ve got to go back and focus in on the little details that we normally do and fix those things.”
Files has led a potent 2015 offense that’s averaged 49 points and 520 yards per game. “That’s just everybody doing their job,” he says, “especially my linemen giving me that time and my receivers being able to make plays.”
Two weeks ago, Files set a new school record for passing yards in a single game: 436. “I was just playing in the game and got lost in the game,” he says. “I was having fun and doing my job, just letting everything happen and fall into place.”
What’s it take to be a good quarterback? “A lot of determination and hard work,” Files says. “And you’ve got to keep perspective, maintain the team goal. You can’t get lost up in the individual goals.”
Defensively Friday, North’s leading tacklers were linebackers Zach Palmisano, Khalil Lewis and safety McShane Wyatt, with 10 stops each. Defensive end Nick Lagattuta nabbed a loose ball.
Thursday, North faces Prosper, a team coming off a 47-15 pasting of Sherman. The Eagles (3-1, 1-0), with new coach Chris Ross, show signs of being the real deal after a couple of down years. Their lone loss to date: 35-28 versus Highland Park at AT&T Stadium.
“Prosper’s a very, very good football team,” Fecci says. “I say that a lot about a lot of people and I mean it when I say it, but these guys [are] especially. They are very good at what they do and their kids are believing. … They’ve got a lot of confidence and it’s going to be a tough test for us. They’re complicated on both sides, [offense and defense].”
North won last year’s meeting, 43-19, at Prosper, though the Eagles lead the all-time series, 2-1.
McKINNEY HIGH LIONS
The Lions (2-2, 0-1) look to build off a fourth-quarter rally that came up just short in Friday’s 24-21 loss to Wylie. After reviewing game tape, Smith says, “There were some battles up-front that we won and lost, here and there, in spots. Wylie is the best defense that we’ve played – bar none. They’re very good on defense – always are every year.”
Sophomore running back Matt Gadek (right) works on footwork Tuesday.
“I thought we got better as the game got on. Offensively speaking, we got a little bit more in-synch and found some things that our kids did well and we moved the ball. … I don’t want to be a broken record, but we’ve just got to get off to a better start. We had some really untimely penalties in the first half that kept our offense out of synch and we turned the ball over once when we were moving it.”
Down, 21-0, in the final stanza, the Lions’ offense scored touchdowns on two straight possessions, with an Akayleb Evans on-side kick recovery sandwiched in between. Walker Torrain scored both TDs on short, second-effort pushes.
After Wylie (2-2, 1-0) added a late field goal, Lions quarterback Damon Witmer – the game’s leading rusher with 134 yards – found fellow sophomore Quinton Quirrenbach for a 20-yard touchdown strike to end the scoring. Witmer threw for 84 yards, his season-high in McKinney’s run-heavy attack. “We threw the ball more than we have,” Smith says, “partly because we were behind, probably because we felt like we needed to at times.” He adds, “I think Witmer had one of his best games.”
“We just came alive in the fourth quarter,” Witmer says. “We knew we had to come back strong.” As for Quirrenbach’s fade-pass TD, he adds, “That was awesome because we did that a lot during the freshman season. We did that so many times. … I just threw it up, hoping he would get off his defender. And he went up and caught it.”
Witmer says he enjoyed getting to air it out a bit. “It was nice. I just feel like Coach [Smith] trusts me more. I feel more confident.”
Lions sophomore quarterback Damon Witmer rushed for 134 yards versus Wylie.
The Lions’ top tackler this night was defensive end Cameron Calhoun with 15 stops. “They were checking the ball down and making those short throws,” Smith says, “and Cameron was making a lot of those tackles.” Also earning Smith’s praise, defensively: the secondary “as a whole,” sophomore linebacker Andrew Mills – in his first start for injured Tyler Batson – and sophomore defensive end Jackson Hill. Ryan Wood, at the other end, recovered a Wylie fumble.
Up-front offensively, Smith singles out the play of center Caleb Stricklin and left tackle Aidan Mulligan. Torrain finished with 53 yards rushing on 14 carries and Matt Gadek added 9 touches for 50 yards. Rickey Fantroy and Joseph Robinson led McKinney receivers with three catches each.
The Lions travel to face the Denison Yellowjackets Friday, a team that just gave Lovejoy all it wanted before falling, 45-34. The Leopards rallied late, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with a minute left. Lovejoy tacked on a “gravy” TD after the ‘Jackets fumbled the ensuing kickoff. In the loss, Denison (2-2, 0-1) gave up 340 yards to prolific Leopards passer Bowman Sells.
‘Jackets quarterback Hunter Watson threw for 168 yards, with Steven Waggoner hauling in nine balls for 99 yards. Watson was also Denison’s leading rusher with 65 yards on 23 tries.
“They’ll be a big challenge,” Smith says. “They’re an aggressive style, on both sides of the ball. And I know they view this as an important game as well. I expect them to load both barrels and really give us all they’ve got. … We need to go up there and get one in the [district] win column.”
McKinney topped the ‘Jackets in overtime last year, 35-28, and trail in the all-time series, 18-26 with 5 ties.
Thursday, Oct. 1
McKinney North vs. Prosper, 7 p.m., Ron Poe Stadium
Friday, Oct. 2
McKinney Boyd vs. Plano East, 7:30 p.m., Ron Poe Stadium
McKinney at Denison, 7:30 p.m.
FEARLESS (AND WORTHLESS) PREDICTIONS
(Last week 1-2; Season 8-5)
McKinney North 41, Prosper 38
(The Bulldogs bounce back at home.)
Plano East 35, McKinney Boyd 30
(The Panthers have it goin’ on.)
Denison 34, McKinney 31
(The ‘Jackets nest – a tough place to play.)
About the author: Rick Atkinson is a McKinney-based freelance writer and cartoonist. He has covered McKinney high school football for McKinneyOnline.com for the last three seasons. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.